Monthly Archives: July 2017

Heartburn and age: It really does get worse

Image result for heartburnGetting older has its perks, like learning life’s lessons, knowing what you want (and how to get it), and feeling comfortable in your own skin. That is, unless you suffer from heartburn.

Studies have shown the irritating truth that this esophageal irritation gets more intense as you age.

“First, the sphincter on top of your stomach, which opens to allow things you swallow to go into your stomach, tends to relax a bit more with time,” says Self.

That’s a medical way to say that even your internal muscles can’t fight Father Time. When that flap doesn’t open or close as quickly, stomach acid can creep back up and cause your esophagus to burn.

Another cause for more heartburn as you age is that your stomach doesn’t digest your food as quickly. And when your food sticks around longer, there are more chances for problems. Couple that with a slight weight gain that a lot of folks experience later in life, and your stomach acid has the perfect storm for irritating your esophagus.

Most folks experience heartburn from all the usual culprits: Fatty foods, sugar, peppermint, booze (basically anything fun). If that’s the case for you, limiting your intake along with using an over-the-counter heartburn med should probably take care of the problem.

However, if you have more severe problem that happens more frequently or doesn’t have a food trigger, you should definitely let your doctor know. With frequent heartburn comes a higher risk for esophageal cancer because of the acid wearing away at your throat. A stronger medication or more stringent course of action might be necessary, but your doctor can help you figure out what you should do.

“Heartburn is one of many possible symptoms of GERD. GERD means reflux of stomach contents into the esophagus,” says our very own Dr. Anezi Bakken.

She walked us through the symptoms and risks associated with heart burn the last time we sat down with her. She also told us how there comes a point when your heartburn could be something more serious. GERD typically shows more severe symptoms, such as nausea, sore throat, difficulty swallowing and even a cough. “Just” heartburn can turn into a more severe condition.

What else can you do?

Stop smoking, lose weight and drink lots of water – pretty much the standard prescription for getting any condition under control.

You can also use some food-tracking apps to monitor which foods are the worst for your gut. And gum and baking soda are a couple of home remedies that work for some people.

Talk to your doctor regarding any stomach discomfort to keep things in check and to avoid a more serious condition from developing.

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Can one diet change ease Crohn’s?

Image result for plant based good fatsCrohn’s is a disease that hundreds of thousands suffer from in silence. An autoimmune disorder, the symptoms are different from person to person and just as difficult to treat.

Food is another challenge to folks fighting Crohn’s, with flare ups stemming from all types of sources. But a new study is linking an uptick in consumption of plant-based fats with a decrease in bad bacteria and inflammation in the digestive tract of mice.

“The finding is remarkable because it means that a Crohn’s patient could also have a beneficial effect on their gut bacteria and inflammation by only switching the type of fat in their diet,” said Alexander Rodriguez-Palacios, DVM, DVSc, PhD to EurekAlert.

The research seems rather promising, given that patients with Crohn’s could begin to see the benefits simply by swapping coconut oil for butter or using cocoa butter as a substitute.

Another positive aspect is the insight this offers medical researchers into what makes good fats, well, good.

“Ongoing studies are now helping us to understand which component of the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ fats make the difference,” Rodriguez-Palacios said. “Ultimately, we aim to identify the ‘good’ fat-loving microbes for testing as probiotics.”

In other words, this cross-referencing of research could start to pinpoint the magic potion for sufferers of Crohn’s. Since each person and their lower tract is unique, however, it’s not likely there will be a one-size-fits-all solution that comes out of this line of study. But getting closer to understanding what makes these good fats reduce inflammation and symptoms in any way is a positive step for patients.

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